Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hunter on TLS

Philosopher Graeme Hunter kindly reviews The Last Superstition in the latest issue of Touchstone.  From the review:

Feser is a talented philosopher who can present Christian thought in broad strokes or in fine detail with equal authority. His book is notable for the clarity with which it reassembles the essential elements of Christian philosophy – showing its debt to ancient Greece, its development in the Middle Ages, and its canonical expression in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Feser then uses his expertise in later philosophy to isolate certain interconnected fallacies of thought, from the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and up to the present, fallacies that have insinuated themselves into our thinking, limiting our ability to think clearly about science, truth, God, and the human condition.

You need have no prior knowledge of the history of philosophy to follow Feser’s guided tour, but he takes for granted a reader prepared to go slowly and think things through. The reward for doing so is great. Though I have spent a lifetime teaching and writing about the same matters as this book discusses, I was challenged and instructed on almost every page…

It is rather to Feser’s credit that he sometimes allows himself (and his reader) the simple pleasure of scoffing at the other side…

The reader who begins this book prepared to think will end it thinking much more effectively. He will see the new atheism for the stale, unprofitable confusion it is. At the same time he will accumulate some useful ammunition for the culture wars. Few books reward our labor so richly.


  1. I would buy this book, if it was available on kindle.

  2. I would add that 'TLS' also introduces very well and effectively the reader to A-T philosophy.

    Although the book itself warns the reader that there will be some 'dry philosophy' ahead... I actually enjoyed very much those sections.
    Sometimes you have to stop and let it sink in, sure it's not a book for the brainless, but you will be rewarded at the end as G. Hunter also says.

    And I think that after you start to get to know Aristotleles and (especially) Aquinas you can't go back... your vision of the world and of religion and God will be permanently changed (in a better way). At least when I first learned a little bit about what Aquinas really said (and I still have a lot to learn yet :P) I had an 'internal revolution' of sorts even if I did not have to convert to another faith (but the faith and morality did make a lot more sense).

    So I think TLS, might really change people's lives just by explaining even if briefly, the A-T philosophy :)

    I think that TLS is not only 'a refutation of the new atheism' but also gives 'a better understanding of faith, theism and morality', which is very important for any faithful to have, whether they debate atheists or no.

    They should sell Feser's Aquinas and TLS together in a 'change your view on faith' pack ;)


    So... kudos for Prof. Feser!

  3. More books. Please. :)

    btw, you live in California, right? You have not commented on the state law which mandates that students in public schools be educated on "gay history." Will you comment on it?

  4. Feser is a talented philosopher [...]

    Indeed. Thank you for putting those talents to the service of Our Lord.

  5. "...the state law which mandates that students in public schools be educated on 'gay history.'"

    What? "Gay history"? I'm from a small town in Alabama, so not only is this Californian mandate news to me, but such a thing is unfathomable to the mind of a country bumpkin like myself. I simply cannot imagine that ever happening here.

    Nevertheless, for all our sakes, may Platonic/A-T essentialism reign again!

  6. I wish Dr. Feser would write a book specifically on Natural Law from an A-T perspective. There really is so much moral confusion today, even among Catholics! Dr. Feser if you are reading this please consider it.

  7. I want to see him tackle the non-Problem of evil.

  8. @Anonymous April 27, 2011 6:43 PM

    He has written a pretty good article on it though:


    Fourth Article down...

    "Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation" Social Philosophy and Policy, vol. 27, no. 1 (2010)

  9. @ BenYacov

    He does in TLS, although briefly and admitting that the subjects needs a book of its own.

    But yes I agree, I'd like a book on the subject of Evil (which is particularly hot topic these days).

    Also a book dedicated on Natural Law as Anon.(April 27, 2011 6:43 PM)suggested would be interesting (although he also talks about it in TLS and Aquinas as well).

    LOL I guess I am a Feser 'fanboy' now :P

  10. On the subject of evil:
    I've often wondered if a "proof of Satan's existence" could be made using the opposite of Aquinas' 4th way?

    The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less evil, false, base and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is falsest, something worst, something basest and, consequently, something which is uttermost death; for those things that are greatest in falsehood are greatest in death, as it is written in Metaph. ii.[no idea if this would apply] Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their death, evilness, and every other imperfection; and this we call Satan.

  11. for those things that are greatest in falsehood are greatest in death, as it is written in Metaph. ii.

    Setting aside the fact that gradation of evil is most naturally accounted for by reference to the good, and the privation theory of evil, this is where the argument breaks down: the convertibility of truth etc. with being is essential to the argument (so that we end up talking about something greatest in being), and without it the last steps become arbitrary: the notions used lack the universality, and the association with being, needed to make the argument work.

  12. Daniel:

    In addition to Brandon's comment, James Chastek gives a good response to the parody objection here.

  13. Congratulations on your great family addition, Prof. Fesser.

    OThers: try St. Thomas Aquinas
    "De Malo" available in English paperback.

  14. Brandon and Leo,

    Thanks for the insight and link.

    I always learn something when I come here!

  15. "Christian magazine claims Christian philosopher's defense of Christianity to be good" - not exactly "man bites dog" is it?

    1. some non christian mags/journals also gave it a good review tho.